Involving men in reproductive health in India: Policies, programmes and achievements (PDF)
Khan,M.E.; Panda,Pradeep Kumar
Journal of Family Welfare 50(special issue): 57-70
Publication date: 2004
The paper examines two main issues associated with male involvement in reproductive health in the context of India: first, the manner in which male involvement has been conceptualized and translated into action points in different program and policy documents; second, whether the current programmatic initiatives under Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) program have made any difference in the level of male involvement in family planning and reproductive health. The reviews of various official documents and plans of action show that until recently male involvement was conceived in very narrow terms, primarily as a means to improve contraceptive use by repositioning vasectomy/non-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) and promoting condom use. The few exceptions are the Tenth Five Year Plan and some State Population Policy documents (e.g., Jharkhand and Rajasthan) that are more explicit and have defined male involvement in broader terms including responsible parenthood, gender equity, provision of male reproductive health needs and treatment/counseling of STI/HIV/AIDS.The analysis of RCH-1 (1998-99) and RCH-2 (2002-03) survey data, both at the national level and at the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states level (the eight demographically backward states) does not show any substantial change on the ground. Despite better performance by some of the EAG states (e.g., Jharkhand, U.P., Uttaranchal and Rajasthan), women are still the primary focus of the family planning programs as very little change in female-male contraceptive mix has taken place. Similarly, between the two surveys, increase in awareness among men about the dual protection of condom was only marginal. Even in RCH-2, less than 27 percent male at the national level were aware of dual protection of condom. In order to achieve male involvement in reproductive health, the paper suggests that the program has to shift from woman-centred educational efforts to couple counseling approach. Furthermore, advocacy has to be strengthened and the gender framework has to be the guiding principle in planning program activities.